After my 2011 graduation, I was rather worried about finding a studio that would allow me to work on the large paintings I so much cared about. Various coincidents saw me stumbling into a group of individuals that organized a huge abandoned space that went by an unusual name: “mo.ë“.

They told me about the building’s history: an 18th century factory to produce military ornaments, with workers living in a part of the premises. The building was abandoned for years. Since they took it over they found a deep deep well, disposed tons of garbage, found hidden rooms and hosted all sorts of events (amongst others Roboexotica, an event where robots mixed cocktails). They also discussed their lack of financial structure and funding.

Kinderzimmer, by Gruppe Krokodil

I offered to help them set up a dedicated studio space, which would be rented out to artists – in exchange for this also being my own studio space. As a result, I started being involved in a daily basis; we established stronger hierarchies and on over-arching curatorial program, which led to proper arts funding (from the district, the city of Vienna, and the national arts fund), which in turn allowed us to increase our pace: we established our own international artist in residence area that allowed us to host up to three guests at any time. We could employ someone to care about the curatorial management, who ultimately came up with the idea of exhibitions that would last only a week – and we rocked the city for a while.

People rented the space to shoot videos or host architecture or film production workshops. We invited artists to stage insane installations in our huge main hall. We hosted concerts, flea markets, film productions, architecture workshops and cats.

We frequently were commented on by guests who arrived late in the night, asking for a specific underground space they were looking for – only to realize that they were already in it, albeit in yet another make-up: by having people enter the venue through a garage door, and the space changing its face every week, you could never know what to expect.

Remains of Space, by Anna Mitterer
Hypomessis, by Stefan Kreuzer
The entrance to our space: Thelemangasse 4 with open garage door
The main hall, 2010 "Before the movies, paintings were like the movies", curated by yours truly
Life changed over the four years that I was involved (2011-2015). I wrote and finished my PhD thesis. I had my first gallery representation, and got to exhibit in various art fairs.
With mo.ë hosting my studio, it was more of an emotional base than my flat. I spent more time there than anywhere else in my life. 
We built a library. We had our own Wiki to establish processes (to then ignore them). We had to sue our landlord and won the court case, but saw ownership change three times over the years. Ultimately, a real estate investor bought the building, and things went sour: they wanted us out.
It made sense: we were noisy and hard to understand. Because of the court case, our rent was way lower than they wanted; they offered us other premises, but we wanted to stay: the building had a unique political history and previous family ownership — we would stay until the lease ended, on December 31st, 2015.
It was hard to manage the financial requirements. We had obligations to our employee, which created various tensions in the team. We managed to juggle many balls for a long time, but eventually I realized, together with my friend Kathi (who was in charge of the finances) that we needed to step down. After four years, it was enough. We wanted our lives back.
MOE Schaukasten VII: Angular Flux (NL) - Lumen (Jaysha Obispo, Jeroen van Amelsvoort, Udo Fon)
My studio at mo.ë
Konstrukt v2, by Simon Goritschnig, curated by Alexander Felch
It was quite a relief to find people who wanted to run the space instead of us. It felt good to hand over our processes, and no longer worry about finding a new venue — like having our lives back. After hundreds of events, thousands of guests, over a dozen international residents, it was enough 😉
Later on we understood that things went weird: the new management decided to fight the landlord, aiming for an unlimited rental contract. I don’t know the details, but this court case apparently was lost.
Today, the space is yet another abandoned building, but worse to me, the project’s energy, which always stemmed from the people, not the space, evaporated. Just like that.
I realized that handing a project over risks its destruction. I also realized how little gratitude you get for insane work efforts. When pursuing labors of love, be sure to understand your long-term interest.
mo.ë was pure beauty to me, but it also was a social experiment gone pretty wrong, on many levels. But it brought me into curating (thanks Hannah), it brought many friendships (Matthias, Kathi, Valerie, Christoph, etc), loads of networking opportunities, and it made me find my one true love, the girl who’s godfather I became.
All in all, it was an awesome ride.
Stage: Zigeunerboxer, by Dschungel Kindertheater
Zigeunerboxer: Michael Alexander Pöllmann

To show you some of the craziness we hosted, here are two video shoots that were done at mo.ë:

(With mo.ë having been a generational effort, these thoughts only show my today’s feelings, and claim no completeness. It would be awesome to know about everyone else’s memories)